I picked up samples from White2Tea right when the fresh cakes dropped this year, but despite being one of the first to get their cakes to the market, for some reason White2Tea’s puerhs have taken the most time to settle into themselves. I’ve been checking in on my samples every now and again and keep getting the impression that they are still too fresh to be given a fair shake. Recently I’ve felt like they are starting to calm down a bit, so over the next bit I’ll start digging into these teas. For today, I am going with Both Steal Boats and Meet Halfway. This is a new blend for 2019 and TwoDog says that it’s made with a “fair amount” of aged material. As always, not too much more information is given about the blend, but it’s fair to assume this tea shouldn’t have a tonne of youthful bite.
Most of my sample pack was broken up and loose leaves with two smallish chunks in there, so I can’t comment at all on compression level. The dry leaf has a surprisingly strong aroma with a rich fruity top end over a woody base. After a rinse the leaves take on more of a fruit and berry jam mix, with some subtle floral qualities.
For this session I am using 3.85 grams of tea in my 55ml gaiwan, 90C water, and infusion times starting at five seconds and increasing by five each additional steeping.
The first infusion of Both Steal Boats and Meet Halfway starts out pretty watery, with a light, general sweet fruity flavour. Infusion two gains a bit of spice and woody notes. If you hold the liquor in your mouth for a good while you’ll find depth here – stronger wood taste, earthiness, honey, stone fruit and berries – but you wouldn’t notice this if you just quickly swallow. You probably wouldn’t even notice if you hold the tea in your mouth for a couple of seconds. You really need to sip this tea, swish it around, focus on it as you let it fully cool, then swallow. The mouthfeel begins to thicken up for the third steeping and I am getting a new top end metallic note. There is some light astringency but absolutely no bitterness.
Wateriness is gone by the fourth infusion and the tea now feels like it has filled out, both in texture and flavour. It’s full and well rounded, with the most upfront notes being grape and spinach, but still holding on to the woody and metallic flavours from earlier. The aftertaste is a bit lacking, it comes on hard but leaves quickly. Both Steal Boats continues to get thicker and thicker through infusions five and six, and it becomes brighter and more focused on the high notes, but it doesn’t feel like it’s missing out anywhere.
Sweetness continues to rise and really comes through in the aftertaste now. It doesn’t get me too much in the throat, but instead seems to latch itself to my teeth. Specifically, I get a strong honey sweetness coming from where my wisdom teeth should be. The body reaches it’s peak by the ninth infusion before dropping off, and is shortly followed by flavour which slowly declines until the twelfth infusion. The late infusions are mostly honey sweetness with occasional notes of stone fruit.
Both Steal Boats and Meet Halfway is coming along very well from when I first tasted it, but I still get the feeling it’s not quite there yet. It’s drinkable but I think it would be silly to start devouring a cake of it. With a bit of time I think this tea might really shine. I’ll keep an eye on it and will almost guaranteed pick up a cake when my sample runs low, so I would expect you’ll see an updated review maybe mid next year.